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Why do we embrace mediocrity in relationships? Because we are either so perfection bound or sex is the only value of relationships.

We face obstacles all day long, whether it is the traffic jam on the highway, people at work, delayed and much needed info, our friends, kids etc. We work through these obstacles and can often feel invigorated by championing the challenge. Then why do we pooch out so easily when it comes to relationship obstacles? Why do we give up so easily and why are we not as a result concerned with the idea that about 50% of all marriages won't make 25 years. Why is the work of relationships seemingly so low on the priority list?

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    Jul 27 2013: I personally look for high value in relationships and don't settle for mediocrity.
    • Jul 28 2013: What then is `high value`to you and how do you or will you know when you find that and would you fight for
      that. What is your definition of mediocrity
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        Jul 28 2013: I believe he is saying he will never ever get married ;)

        Men have a good reason to FEAR it as long as things stay the same.
  • Aug 7 2013: I believe, fundamentally, that one of the biggest problems with how society sees marriage is that they are looking for that other person to be the one person who "gets them", like you said about mothers, that one person who is going to make them happy and "complete" them. Then we run into problems, because people are flawed and sinful, and, like you said, narcissistic. Change is too hard, and "why do I have to change to suit another's needs anyway?" "I need to be true to myself". Big mistake. And especially in today's world of throwing anything away anything that is broken or doesn't bring us happiness instead of fixing it, we give up too easily. Noone ever said marriage (and life, for that matter) was supposed to be easy. We're all looking for that "happily ever after", but the reality is, marriage is work. And if we give up too soon, we'll never give it a chance. We have to start realizing that we can't look to our spouse to be our soul mate, the perfect one that is going to solve all our problems. That is an impossible dream that you can only portray in movies. The dream comes when we tough through the hard times and come out on the other side better for it. Don't give up on each other, and don't give up on yourself. And don't be afraid of change. Change can be painful, but in order to grow, you're going to have to face your fears. But that's where your spouse can come in. They can be a mirror. And, this is a big one for me. Don't take it so personally when someone tries to help. And don't take yourself so personally either!
    • Aug 7 2013: Stephanie you said it perfectly...wow! I am a marriage therapist and you described the majority of clients who come in. Amazingly they rarely see their reflection in the mirror and give all their power away to something outside of themselves that cannot work because that "other" isn't perfect either. Thanks for your comments
  • Jul 29 2013: I believe the moment you are born you become a narcissist. You cry and mom knows the difference between the poopy diaper cry from the I am hungry cry to the come play with me cry etc. She comes and looks after that need and you think, hey she gets me and she looks after me. Then we develop language and we ask for needs to be met. Next we become a teen where it is definitely all about me...my life, my money etc. Then 2 people who are used to practicing a life all about themselves meet, fall in love and get married. Here there starts a problem because essentially you have two "I's," trying to become an "us." Perhaps marriage will either become the start of the cure for being self-centered (narcissistic) or it will become the battle ground of who will matter or control the most. Marriage can either be a blessing or a curse. It is up to us.
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      Aug 3 2013: As a teen, I was all about our band, our music similarities, our happiness, our goofing off time (party time), my girlfriends I never had an argument with about money :) and I never impressed them with it or went overboard. It was never about money or wine and dine back then that I see so much of around me going on today. It was down to earth honest relationships. I did work but money or that new car was never a focus. Money was more about having the ability to be free sort of speak. Money was for party supplies and props just about for us and who ever didn't have it at the time was taken care of by another for this "freedom". Maybe it was more about our self-centeredness as a group. We were not the "in" crowd that is for sure.
  • Jul 29 2013: 1. Because of TV and movies, I think people feel that the perfect match will occur immediately
    2. Some people think sex is the center of a relationship, it is part but not the center.
    They go into the relationship with these assumptions. I think the reason relationship fails are:
    1. assumptions without understanding- Many years ago I lead a design team and one engineer had just got married - she assumed that the job was a 9-5 -after 6 month, divorce. 2 years later she was hired as an assistant and she said she never understood what the job required.
    2. You change, your partner changes, the relationship changes - need to understand the change in yourself, your partner and in the relationship - obviously your partner must also understand and then you have a chance to continue.
    3. being self centered

    sometimes i think arranged marriages may have been better - start from scratch, no assumptions, and in theory the same interests. -8>))
    • Jul 29 2013: You raise an important observation about the affect of the media upon our thinking about relationships. In a media rich world where everything is demanded instantaneously, relationships are thrown into the same naive heap. Recognizing that marriage is never in a vacuum...that it is always changing and evolving is important to understand as well. I tell my wife that I will always be a student of "her." If I ever get to the place where I think I have her totally figured out, I am not blocking the relationship from growing. I am going to post a comment upon being self-centered shortly.
      • Jul 29 2013: My creed has always been never stop learning or the day i stop learning is the day I am dead.
  • Jul 28 2013: What would be your definition of mediocre? What would be your definition of a great marriage? What do you think is the number one promoter of mediocrity? In this conversation it appears that most recognize the importance of communication and inter-connectedness. I have heard many talk about this disappearing the longer the relationship lasted. Some who lived together for a period of time have said that this inter-connectedness and communication disappeared altogether when they got married. Are the "ideals" of marriage too lofty and communication dwindles when one or both begin to feel it is impossible to attain?
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      Jul 29 2013: Marriage holds no weight at all anymore. I disbelieve marriage has any grounds for holding any two people together. It's now all about the paper work in the end. That is the only place where marriage holds any merit for discussing.
      Mediocre relationship="good morning hun"...work..."what you want for dinner? Don't know, What you want? Don't know.... So, what are we eating? Oh, I had a sandwich earlier. OK, I'll find something" ..."good night hun" repeat six or seven times and add sex once. :) Does that paint a mediocre (dull) picture or what? The lack of spontaneous activities and renting a 5 star hotel room in the city you live in, I don't find anything about this being a spontaneous "activity". Dumb.......lol! (sorry, inside joke, that never happened)
      I disagree with Perel's last thought in her speech, if I understand correctly, everything else was taken in. Everything else in life just about is on a schedule (sleep, work, eat, shower...Wah, sex too?) why would I want to add sex to this schedule? And this was not the "activity" I was thinking of above. Seriously, what man wants or would enjoy being on a sex schedule? Boy, that's when the headaches really start coming in, pun intended! I got that T-shirt
      • Jul 29 2013: Your comments although understandable seem angry and maybe jaded to some extent. Although I see difficulties within relationships I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. The challenge when a relationship becomes dull and boring is to become an expert on what you have contributed to this sad state of affairs rather than becoming an expert on what the other does that fails to create excitement. In my marriage I frequently consider what I have done or am doing that is dysfunctional before I begin to consider my wife. The only one I can change... the only one I am responsible for to change is me.
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          Aug 2 2013: "when a relationship becomes dull and boring is to become an expert on what you have contributed to this sad state of affairs rather than becoming an expert on what the other does that fails to create excitement."

          You have to have someone to relate this to you though. Someone to make suggestions what could possibly make things better with out getting the feeling of being manipulated and you have to do the same back. It's more about trust to get to an agreed goal. No point in trying to talk to an empty face over and over again. I'm jaded of "passive aggressive" actions in relationships and standing up to manipulations that eventually come about in a power struggles. I'm angry about the law in just about the same way. I feel like I ate 6 shit bars and they continue to serve them, I refuse to eat them anymore! I want to see my kids and make a difference in their lives with out eating shit bars for the rest of my life or with out feeling what I think is best for them is judged worthless, powerless. A mother has to be strung out on meth before the law sees any worth in a father besides "money".
          Thinking about throwing it all away but not ready, eh? Pfff... that's weak dude and you both are responsible for each other (trust). And if she is thinking it, it is just as weak on her part. There is no trust bond when someone is always considering leaving for a reason you have no idea of (one foot in, one foot out). Marriage means shit because "feelings change"? ....it's a clear cop out, never truly there then!!! It's a "I thought I fart (relieve, I found him/her), but I pooped (What have I done!!)" feeling isn't it? :) Recycle it, lol! or you will be eating poop bars for a long time if ya'll have kids together. They will have poop bars to eat as well.
          I hope this isn't too raw. Point is to find a way to get "back" on the bright side of things again, BOTH, not just one.
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    Jul 28 2013: quality seems to have to do with communication. So if you're asking good questions and making interesting comments, and you're getting some of that back, your relationship should be good quality. Just like one hopes we have a good relationship as we conduct these TED conversations.
    • Jul 28 2013: I agree that good communication is very important as long as it involves both the intelligence of mind just as much as it involves the intelligence of heart. In my opinion wisdom is a path between head and heart. I need my mind to temper my heart just as much as I need my heart to temper my mind.Intellectual relationships I think can never be as deep as mind and heart relationships.
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        Jul 28 2013: Mark,
        When I speak of "good" communication, it involves the intelligence of the mind, heart and all aspects of the human condition.

        As thinking, feeling human beings, we are multi dimensional, and if we "know" ourselves, we can contribute various aspects of our "self" to any relationship....in my humble perception and experience, there are choices:>)

        One key, is to be honest first with ourselves, because we cannot share something with others that we do not have in our "self".
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        Jul 28 2013: well, intellectual relationships can certainly involve both the mind and heart. By heart you may mean more the emotions, and intellectual relationships certainly involve the emotions, both talking about emotions, and the emotions one feels as one discusses ideas.
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      Jul 28 2013: Excellent point Greg! I agree that quality relationships have a lot to do with communication, and quality of relationship, with good communication can be everywhere....including TED conversations:>)
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        Jul 28 2013: right, colleen, do you sometimes find yourself talking with the people around you in your daily life about the things you talk about on TED conversations?
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          Jul 28 2013: I LOVE discussing things Greg, and I am lucky to have very diverse friends, family and acquaintances who are interested in all kinds of topics. So, yes, at times, TED conversations and topics are brought into other conversations. It all depends on the topic of conversation at any given time, and whether or not information is relevant to the conversation.

          Also, I have introduced quite a few people to TED, so some of my friends are aware of the TED conversations, just as some of my TED friends are aware of other things that are happening in my life.....it's all interconnected.....don't you think?
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        Jul 28 2013: for me life feels interconnected, yes, it seems like you could think of any two things, say, carrot, and nose, and if you think you may start to discover interconnections between them.
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          Jul 28 2013: That is an easy connection to make Greg! Up here in the north country, kids use carrots for the nose of snowmen all the time! :>)
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        Jul 28 2013: well, george, I wouldn't mind getting a little bit of fame off these TED conversations, so I guess I use my real name. I hope no situation will become hostile, I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
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    Jul 28 2013: Many people involved in a relationship seek to get their own needs met while resenting the perceived needs of their partner. In work and social relationships we can be more concerned about how we are seen by others, wanting to be judged as worthy and equal. We don't know these people as well as we know our partner and therefore we are motivated to work harder to keep the relationship pleasant. We may also be complacent in a marriage relationship, feeling that our partner will accept us whatever our behaviour. Perhaps we carry over our perceptions of how our mother/ father saw us and assume that same persona in our marriage.
    • Jul 28 2013: Lesley you drive home again the presence of narcissism in a relationship and it's destructive force but I also like your observation of "complacency" or as I might suggest, "laziness." I think if we were actually marry someone who was a carbon copy of ourselves, just how boring the whole experience would be!
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    Jul 28 2013: [Continued]
    I'm afraid I can't be very positive on this topic. I am sorry this is the truth through my dreadful experience still. It takes two to make it. AndThat saying"it takes to make it OR break it" is a half truth. It only takes one to break it and this is more than likely the one that will come out ahead, male or female.
    Honestly, when a man walks out it is usually because he makes the mistake of finding another partner that takes him back to the fantasy as Barry points out below on #2. The man don't mind paying for his escape to another "fantasy" at that moment in time. Flip the shoe over though to the opposite sex here and the woman gets everything her way. I refuse to do it, I will eat dirt for the rest of my life if needed dumpster diving. Two wrongs don't make a right. I'm starting to believe that I can not find an honest job because I am in contempt of court on record now, failing or for being forced to pay child support based on a wage I am not earning. Why on earth would I believe money is not evil? Conditioned and enslaved, it doesn't fit my character. This crap has got to go or I will. I'm going hungry, I need help, and I can't stand the monetary system in which this society sees no wrong in because everyone is following their own little mouse tracks in each of their own individual worlds of what it means to be happy regardless of how things are perceived around them (just another rant). On a positive note, being homeless isn't too bad, eh? It's all in perspective as in mind over matter. Just as I once, I believe most of you have no clue of what really goes on and I can perfectly understand why. To know is to experience. Court decides what is best for the kids? Com'on, my ass hurts. That I guess means I have to pay them to see my own kids. I haven't see them but 2 times in 4 months out of court order. Yeah, best 4 them alright. I'm stoned cornered in a room full of haste and ready to leave this country to find belonging, how do I go about doing this?
    • Jul 28 2013: Wow Vincent, I really and truly can feel your pain. You have obviously endured not only the rejection of a wife but also through court and X, a rejection by your kids. It is one thing to lose your spouse and quite another to lose access to your kids. Canadian men also complain about the same legal preferences and find in the end they are voiceless and powerless.This has become another reason for kids who are fatherless. When marriages end not due to violence or excessive control and/or manipulation the marital fight is vicariously continued through the kids. You and your wife were married but the kids are related which is a completely different relationship dynamic. Sadly in the end the pain of divorce is thrust upon the kids.
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    Jul 28 2013: I have a feeling I'm gonna get it from some on this one. I'm gonna try not to say it but I know it will come out in the end.

    I believe some people fall in love with a person for what they will or have to become. If the "they will" doesn't happen then the have to become begins. The most complicated thing in a relationship like this one (majority of them now) is manipulation and expecting one to change in character for the benefit of the other or what they believe is best for the family. This is the foundation in the negative building blocks that begins to form. Anything after just adds to the stack to a point where any good virtue is not seen or considered at all. If this person can not be conditioned to what I now expect is needed [where is the bold print for the word needed?] to make "me happy" why am I gonna stick around when I can take the kids with me and simply get or demand a pay check? Yep, I said it, it is very easy for a female to threaten the relationship with this and eventually walk away.
    Man, I think about that. How easy would it be for me to give up when this is offered to me at the jump and if it works out for the best of myself, I don't even have to see or hear from her if I use the law to beat her down in the dirt where she belongs. I just need to catch her at the right moment when she just lost her job. I will stick her in the "dead beat mom" media category and the state will cheer and praise me for it. I win everything!

    Personally, I believe this is the reason why the 50% rate is there along with "custom of living with x amount of dollars". The custom of living with x amount of dollars is where the less than a year falls in to play I believe.

    Please excuse me, I have to go to the restroom and puke...Kids are being used to make money. Now, that is getting pretty creative, eh? Courts, social workers, lawyers, doctors, everyone involved in the dramatic sha-bang gets a pay check from it. Well they're saying to get creative during hard times.
  • Jul 28 2013: Personally, I think the relationship of marriage is complex and hard to define. It has little to do with mediocrity, and more to do with the inability to truly understand each other. That is where the work begins...we must try to 'think' like the other and become one with him/her. It makes it a very interesting adventure if each of the partners are willing to work at that aspect and then walk in that path to 'serve' each other. I have found that communication and the an openness to learn what the needs and desires of your partner is what turns a mediocre marriage into an exciting and vital love affair that will last a lifetime. It's the communication that is the hard part. Often we are too wrapped up in ourselves to really listen and understand.
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      Jul 28 2013: Serve each other is dead on. A two way street. If the other ops out and throws up a brick wall what do you do then? Keep serving them or time to do what is done to you after some time? Give up, was never one of my answers.
  • Jul 28 2013: I believe that many couples are set up for failure through one word, "perfect." They meet and fall in love and believe the other is "perfect" for them so they decide to marry and they plan the perfect wedding with the perfect music in the perfect venue with the perfect words and providing the perfect food and drink. And then they plan the perfect honeymoon. The big day comes and hopefully it goes off perfectly along with the perfect honeymoon. But when they return from that honeymoon it is the last time they will encounter "perfect" so robustly and seemingly constantly. Marriage is not about maintaining perfection but it is about building excellence and when that is done together it is an amazing and life changing experience. But now comes the obstacles and challenges or as I would say, here comes the adventure!
  • Jul 27 2013: I would have to say that learning how to be a partner, (or as some might say, learning how to be married), has been one of the toughest investments in my life. But because I have invested for over 23 years, I have also discovered it has the best dividends. At my daughter`s high school graduation a Catholic bishop spoke to her class on commitment and I was shocked when he said the vast number of requests for annulments were from couples who had been married for less than one year. By the way, I think learning how to be a partner is a much different experience than learning how to be married.
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      Jul 27 2013: GOOD POINT Mark! "Learning how to be a partner is a much different experience than learning how to be married".

      Do you suppose that we can go through the motions of being married.....do all the "right" things according to what we've been taught, and NOT think of our spouse as a partner? I believe that we can. There were some good things about my marriage of 24 years, and the one thing that probably bugged me most, is that my wasband (was my husband) didn't seem to consider me a partner. My feeling was that we WERE partners in everything we did.
      • Jul 28 2013: I think you are right in that only one person can work to be a partner. An important aspect for parents to teach their children is the value of cooperation. This value becomes an invaluable benefit in building a marriage. You have benefited from the experience even though you might feel duped. You are3 a better product for having tried and believed.
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          Jul 28 2013: Mark,
          I am not suggesting that "only one person can work to be a partner". I suggest that it takes BOTH people to recognize a partnership, if that is what we want.....cooperation, as you insightfully point out.

          I do not feel "duped". I feel that we were two people with many of the same goals, and some differences. We can weigh and balance our lives, and when it seems way imbalanced, it is time to make different choices.
  • Jul 27 2013: I do not know why others are not willing to put work into relationships. My wife and I have been married 37 years, and I did work at it, and it was worth it. Also, I feel fairly certain that it would not have lasted so long if we had not put in the effort.

    When I was young, my father taught me that everything worth while doing is difficult to do, and I believed him. When I was about to get married he said marriage is not fifty-fifty, it is usually ninety-ten, and I believed him again. Perhaps more people just need to hear these simple lessons, and believe them.
    • Jul 27 2013: Simple lessons are so often the best lessons. I think of my grand-father's thought on a good marriage; "If you look after the smile on your wife's face she will look after the smile on your face." 37 years to your credit I think suggests you know something that about 50% of other marriages do not. What three pieces of advice would you give a young couple just starting out in their marriage?
      • Jul 27 2013: I would not call this advice, it is just what i think worked for me. These are three off the top of my head.

        1. Always try to do the loving thing. It can be very difficult to figure out what that might be, so work at it.

        2. Low expectations. You married a real human being, not the ideal fantasy you fell in love with. Life is not necessarily kind.

        3. Remember to bring home flowers when there is no reason to do so.
        • Jul 28 2013: These are great and enduring thoughts. Again simple is profound so often.
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    Jul 27 2013: Mark,
    Perhaps the "work of relationships" is put low on the list, because it is viewed as "work"? To have "mediocrity in relationships", we first have mediocrity (moderate ability or value) in our "self". We cannot give to someone, something we do not have in ourselves, so if relationships feel mediocre, it might be beneficial to look in ourselves to explore what we are, or are not contributing to the relationship.

    I have always perceived relationships to be joyful and interesting, even when exploring some challenging aspects of a relationship. In my perception of the life experience, including relationships, there are no "obstacles". There are opportunities to learn and grow in ourselves, and perhaps with another person:>)
    • Jul 27 2013: I like your positive thoughts. I believe that there is not failure only feedback. I wonder though if as you suggest that the "work of relationships is put low on the list because it is viewed as work," why that "work" is not worthy of effort but other kinds of work such as employment or troubles with your teens is seen as worthy? How does one and why does one create this hierarchy? How does it benefit them given that marriage is grand but divorce is about one hundred grand! (he says tongue in cheek)
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        Jul 27 2013: Oh.....I agree....no failure.....only feedback....well said:>)

        Perhaps it is not thought of as "worthy" because we may not always see immediate results? We get paid for employment, we may get instant response from a teen....or not! If we are taking our partnership for granted, we may not see, or be aware of some of the responses?
        • Jul 28 2013: I think what you are describing is the current narcissistic entitlement of instant gratification. I want my hamburg now, I want my car to never break down, i want all my investments to earn big interest and i want my partner to be perfect now! These are all parts of unrealistic thoughts that are seemingly rampant on the world especially North America.
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        Jul 28 2013: Part of what I am describing may be a need for instant gratification. I believe part of the complexity may be caused with our changing roles, as I suggest in another comment.
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    Jul 27 2013: You may want to edit and put your topic in the questions sections to get more replies. This is great question and topic I would love to respond to. I will begin by sharing a story.

    I used to bartend while I was in college. I met an older gentleman (customer) who would come in for a drink or two every so often. He would dress in T-shirts, shorts, flip flops and very easy sense of persona about him. I would see him riding a bicycle or driving his VW beetle. The car was in moderate condition. At times he would grow a shaggy looking beard. He was often alone. I got to know him a bit. He was a down to earth guy. Now, the owner of the bar grew up with him. I was very close to the owner; he was like an older brother to me. He told me something about this guy that I couldn't hardly believe. The guy was a biologist and came across a cure for a disease. He was loaded with money. You would never be able to tell this by his outside shell. However, he was out there looking for something special. I told no one about him (trust), I really admired this about him. Do you know what he was searching for?
    • Jul 27 2013: Sounds like another version of Billy Joel's Piano Man! I give...what was he looking for
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        Jul 28 2013: An easier and less resistant path to a meaningful and down to earth relationship(s). I believe it was more about finding the singular EDIT:as in relationship
        • Jul 28 2013: That seems so abstract to me. How do you find those kinds of paths once someone else is involved? It would seem to me the closest you could come to that is by being single if not a hermit but when that same person faces some hardship then they still are going to likely encounter their own resistance and complexity.
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        Jul 28 2013: The term dress for success works in more ways than in a business sense. He was not sporting or ever flashing his money (power/freedom) around. He remained the same shell on the outside. True to himself on the inside and outside. I don't know where he put it all but very little was used in a way that many of us would more than likely use it. I don't know, maybe to his kids or grandkids. Maybe more than one home? I believe he was searching for a meaningful spouse as we did talk about this at times. I did keep my word and never mentioned anything about knowing the amount of money he had to him or others.
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    Jul 27 2013: Marriage relationship is the most complicated relationship of all , so it's not comparable to any other relationship that's what I feel. Even then despite all complexity which other relationships don't have( exception is relationship with parents or siblings) people maintain more than say 25 years ?
    • Jul 27 2013: Why do you think or what do you think makes marriage so complicated? If you are right perhaps people don't work on their marriage because the complications are perceived as too over whelming.
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        Jul 28 2013: Because of the multiplicity of roles both husband and wife have to play that makes it a complicated one. Moreover it has got lot sociocultural influences on it compared to other relationships.

        Just giving a silly example of some other factor.....say someone had an heated argument with her/his boss , peer or friend....after that what they may handle the situation ? If it happens to husband and wife ......will they be able to handle it same way ? Even if they want to handle it same way..which way they will handle i.e like Peer Vs Peer / Friend Vs Friend / Boss vs Subordinate or something different ?
        • Jul 28 2013: Yes, it seems we respond to a love relationship with much more apprehension and /or fear than we might with a friendship or employment relationship. I wonder why that is? Could it be that the pain of rejection and/or abandonment in a love relationship feels much more threatening than in other kinds of relationships?
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      Jul 28 2013: Salim and Mark,
      I think marriage may be getting MORE complicated because of the expansion of roles. There was a time when the woman was the homemaker, provided childcare, took care of the home and emotional challenges within the home. The man was the financial support. The roles were very clearly defined by society.

      Now that people are taking different roles (more women in the work force and more men are stay at home dads), the roles are less defined, and it may contribute to the complexity of marriage partnerships.
      • Jul 28 2013: I am not sure I agree that role confusion adds to relationship complexity. If this is merely a paradigm shift there is usually a sorting out period. If on the other hand this is an aberration of defined roles, I wonder if the consequences are merely built in to keep us or to help return us back on track? People often refer to the "good old days" when change occurs or the rules change. I think we are what I call people of the pendulum. We love to be on the far extension of either side of the swing of the pendulum but what we crave is the place in the middle. As a result we really do have a hard time learning from our mistakes.
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          Jul 28 2013: It's ok if we do not agree......that is what having a good conversation is about....sometimes agreeing to disagree.

          You make a good point regarding actions/reactions/consequences....cause and effect.

          I am not referring to "the good old days" Mark, I am simply suggesting that roles are changing, and it's ok if you do not agree.

          I prefer NOT to be on the "far extension of either side of the swing of the pendulum". I much prefer balance, and that is a personal choice.
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        Jul 28 2013: Colleen & Mark
        I just wanted to point out that the marriage relationship is not comparable to any other relationship we have in our life. Even when a couple is in love but not married the relationship has got a different dimension which changes once they get married , that's my feeling from observation but others can have different opinion or feelings.

        I agree with Colleens point of changed role of partners due to the changed landscape of society . Interestingly because socio economic evolution the roles have changed but the expectation of society haven't changed much even the psyche of partners (mostly male's psyche) has not changed much at least in my cultural surroundings , which definitely added more complexity around it.

        Seems our social norm changes at much slower rate then the changes happens in different roles due economical or technological reason.
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          Jul 28 2013: I agree Salim, that the marriage/partnership relationship is different than most other relationships, because there doesn't seem to be another relationship in which we share so many aspects of the life experience.

          I also agree that a partnership may have a different dimension than a marriage. I know several couples who lived together contentedly for years, got married, and then had challenges with their relationship. There may be something about the marriage commitment that gets in the way for some people?

          Change certainly DOES take time!